2 Years to Self-Respect

I stopped drinking two years ago – I don’t remember the actual day but it was April 2011. I have learn a lot in those 24 months about how the body and mind repair themselves after years of being subjected to alcohol, and seen how it is possible to leave behind a very negative persona, full of self-doubt, low confidence and insecurities, and replace her with someone who lives and breathes optimism, self-confidence and contentment.

One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when attempting to adopt a sober lifestyle is that when first embarking on this new pathway, the newly teetotal person has very low feelings of self-worth, and the powerful and persuasive inner voice that screams out ‘you don’t deserve anything good in life anyway so why try and be happy’ is difficult to ignore.

When I first emerged from that nightmarish tunnel of relentless drinking and all the awful associations that go with it, I hated myself. I found it very hard to hold a conversation with someone and hold their eye contact. I did not believe in my abilities whatsoever, I felt as though I were inferior to everyone. I had no real ambitions because I could not conceive of ever achieving anything worthwhile; I would’ve struggled to come up with a list of 10 things I liked about me.

When you have such a low opinion of yourself, it is a constant battle to stay away from alcohol, because it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that you don’t deserve a better life than the one you are trying to escape from.

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Over time – and this is why I am writing this today, for anyone who is fighting the urge to give in to alcohol and all its temptations in the early days of sobriety – your belief in yourself grows. Gradually you begin to think of yourself as a decent human being who is worth more than simply accepting their lot as a muted, sloshed, semi-conscious, unhealthy, foolish, out-of-control, full of shame drunk and you do consider other possibilities. Alternative lifestyle choices begin to spring up around you and surprisingly at first, you take them.

After a sufficient amount of time has passed, it becomes an incongruous idea that you might pick up a glass of toxic liquid, and drink it with the full knowledge that it will transform you into a different person. Your heart will beat faster, your words will begin to slur, you will spout nonsense, you’ll lose your sense of who you are, you will embarrass yourself by saying or doing something silly, you’ll wake up feeling dehydrated and ill, you will berate yourself for how you acted, you’ll snap at your kids, your performance at work will be below par, you won’t like yourself, you will look awful.

And with time comes such self-awareness and a feeling of actually liking yourself, that presented with the chance of having an alcoholic drink, you genuinely come to think ‘Urrgh, why would I ever do that to myself?’

At least, that’s how it has turned out for me.

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8 thoughts on “2 Years to Self-Respect

  1. Congrats on your two years-ish!! Ha ha…that’s awesome. I will be two years in a few weeks as well, so I certainly can identify with everything you said here in this wonderful, wonderful post. Once again you nail it with simplicity and a way of navigating things that bogs us down when trying to explain what it is like or what it feels like to be an alcoholic. The shame, guilt and remorse are debilitating, the weight of our drunken history bears on us heavily and our self-esteem and self-worth are in the negatives. We drink mainly for the effect of alcohol to get away from ourselves…but it never really works, does it? The alcohol itself then starts to become a problem on it’s own, but the real problem is us…we don’t seem to fit the world. But like you said so well, these things start to turn and we do things we never thought we would and we heal. Oh the healing…for those who can’t see it yet through the fog of booze and self-hate, you get to a point where drinking doesn’t even enter your mind…what a relief. What freedom!

    Great post…and congrats again 🙂

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul – we both got there at roughly the same time, congratulations to you too for in a few weeks! Freedom is the word – I can’t believe how much negativity I had coasting round my body and mind when I drank, and in comparison there is virtually none nowadays. Good to hear from you, thanks for leaving your comment. Lucy x

  2. You reminded me of a time when I was in rehab, and every morning at the group meeting, we were to write one thing we liked about ourself on the board… I had nothing for days… Awful! I love the way you describe the changes, the transformation in the attitude towards yourself and the world around! These are the gifts of sobriety. Congrats on 2 years!

    • Ahh, how awful for you! It takes some practice doesn’t it, this liking yourself business? Alcohol is so insidious in the way it slowly erodes our self-confidence whilst simultaneously making us believe that we are more confident when we drink the stuff. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment – I hope you have plenty to write on your list now! Lucy x

  3. Wow, I’m in tears. This is the first time I’ve come across your blog (I found you from MindBodyGreen) and I’m so moved. I’ve struggled for years with depression, anorexia and bulimia, and self-injury. Alcohol has been a serious problem as well, but one I’ve not been willing to address because my actions seem so normal in a college, party-school setting. What i’ve discovered recently, after healing from most of my other issues, is that this is something I can’t ignore. You describe the consequences and experiences so eloquently. For some, alcohol isn’t a serious vice. But for me, it is something that causes a great deal of self-loathing and kickstarts my cycle of old mind tapes. Thank you for writing what I needed to see, and for opening my eyes. And CONGRATULATIONS on your own journey! You truly are an inspiration!
    xoxo

    • Hi, thank you! I too had a lot of other problems and I dealt with them one by one, but always ignored the booze thinking it was ok because it is so socially normal. It was actually the main culprit in all of my destructive behaviours of the last twenty years but it took a hell of a lot for me to see that! I hope my blog helps you and others – that’s why I write it and to process my own thoughts…ultimately though I think if people can read and talk more about alcohol abuse, they are much more likely to deal with it than if it’s swept under the carpet.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting – good luck and best wishes for the future. Lucy xx

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